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Introducing the 3rd generation Kindle

July 29, 2010

After much speculation, the newest 6″ Kindle has been announced.

The big changes:

  • Weight drops from 10.2 to 8.7 ounces
  • Physical dimensions reduced 21%–from 8 x 5.3 x .36 in to 7.5 x 4.8 x .34
  • “50% greater contrast than any other e-reader”
  • Page turns are 20% faster
  • Battery life increased from 2 weeks to 1 month (10 days with wireless left on)
  • Memory increased from 2GB to 4GB
  • Improved browser
  • Rubberized backing
  • Available in white or graphite

There will be 2 models: a $139 Wi-Fi Kindle and a $189 Wi-Fi + 3G Kindle.  You can pre-order now, but both models will not ship until August 27.

Early review are quite posititve:

  • PC World – “As soon as I took the Kindle in hand, I knew that this Kindle marked new territory.”
  • Engadget.com – “The build quality and materials used did seem slightly more polished than the previous version, and we really liked the new, more subtle rocker. We can also attest to screen refreshes and overall navigation feeling noticeably more responsive and snappy compared with the previous generation.”
  • MSNBC – “…it also helps curb comparisons with the iPad: The further apart the two are in price, the less likely there can be a credible comparison. I recently argued that e-book readers would be best served sticking to their core purpose — delivering the calm, distraction-free experience of reading books in digital form — keeping their prices low and steering clear of extraneous features. That’s what Amazon has done here. At this price, it’s not too crazy to think of iPad and Kindle as a pair, especially since any book you buy through Amazon is readable on either device (and a slew of others).”
  • 9to5Mac.com – “The most incredible part is the insane battery life which provides a month of usage sans and 10 days with the wireless.”
  • Technologizer.com – “Amazon’s strategy is as sensible as any I can think of for the Kindle–make it more like a book and even less like an iPad, thereby catering to all the folks who want the equivalent of a (relatively) cheap, highly portable digital paperback rather than the costlier do-it-all device that is Apple’s tablet.”
  • ZDNet.com – (from a well-known e-reader hater) “Like the reptile that inhabits the namesake river and has outlived its Cretaceous ancestors, Amazon and its Kindle will remain the sole survivor of the eReader Apocalypse.”

Kindle sold out – Kindle 3 around the corner?

July 28, 2010

As the tech blogs and market analysts discovered, the Kindle has been out of stock for 24 hours.  Everyone agrees on two possible explanations: 1) demand for the Kindle, in the wake of it’s lower price, has exceeded Amazon’s expectations (and, thus, their ordered supply from the manufacturer); 2) the yet-to-be-announced Kindle 3 is around the corner.

…one Wall Street analyst thinks the shortage means Amazon has slowed production of the current Kindle as it prepares to release a new device. “Historically, Kindle ‘out of stock’ statements have presaged the launch of new versions,” writes analyst Jim Friedland of Cowen and Co., who estimated the chance of there being a Kindle 3 soon at 80%. He expects a new Kindle to have a higher-contrast screen and be lighter and faster than the current device.
Wall Street Journal

Kindle-haters like to add a third possible reason–supply chain problems–but the first two explanations are far more likely. Both, it is worth noting, would be signs–further dumbfounding Apple-worshiping, non-book reading tech bloggers–of the continued life of the dedicated-ereader:

1. Selling out a 17-month old device (old, by tech industry standards) is an impressive feat.

2. Although details of the Kindle 3 remain secret, Mr. Bezos has confirmed several specifications that signal Amazon’s commitment, and belief, in the ereader:

  • E Ink
  • Black & white display
  • No touchscreen

Reports of Kindle’s death have been greatly exaggerated

July 19, 2010

Amazon issued a press release today touting the news that for the past 3 months, sales of Kindle-edition books have outsold hardcover-edition books.  They also added that the sales growth-rate of the Kindle device has tripled since the recent price decrease.

Notes about the e-books numbers:

  • 143 Kindle books sold for every 100 hardcover books; for the previous month alone, the ratio is 180 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books
  • These numbers DO NOT include free Kindle books
  • These numbers include ALL hardcover books–even those with no equivalent Kindle edition

The techie websites–you know, the guys who have been predicting the death of the Kindle ever since the iPad was announced–really don’t know what to think (see here; here; here).  They really cannot understand why someone would want a black & white ereader that doesn’t do anything but facilitate reading (well, there is Kindlepad).

Hopefully, publishers are getting the message and will cease delaying Kindle-editions of new books as well as continue to release their backlists.  One of the first books I tried to purchase for my new Kindle was Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels. Six months later, it was finally released and I immediately purchased it–a sale that did nothing to cannibalize the paperback edition of the novel (since I have had this book for over a decade).

Kindle’s price drops–well, of course it does

June 24, 2010

The big news in the ereader world is that Amazon.com dropped the price of the Kindle 2 from $259 to $189 after Barnes & Noble lowered the price of its comparable Nook from $259 to $199.

While Kindle/E-Ink haters immediately pounced on this move as a sign that the Kindle is nearing death (“Kindle price drop–Too Little, Too Late“; “Kindle, Nook and Vizplex eReader devices face mass extinction“), one has to remember the earlier columns from such writers, which included this image:

Apple’s much-ballyhooed introduction of the iPad was months ago and, despite its commercials’ (and Mr. Jobs’) assertions, the iPad has not “revolutionized” the world.  In fact, Mr. Bezos has defiantly made a stand by announcing that the next generation Kindle would remain a black & white, standalone ereader.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that Amazon would be releasing the next generation Kindle as soon as August.

So, Amazon has bid its time–knowing that it would have to drop the Kindle’s price before officially announcing the newest Kindle–but did respond when Barnes & Noble made their price cut. Amazon is definitely interested in keeping its domination over the ereader market.

Note that Barnes & Noble was only able to sell its Nook at $259 for less than 7 months and now will have to recoup its research & development costs at the new $199 price.

Conversely, Amazon sold the Kindle 2–which most estimate to cost between $90-125 to manufacture–for $359 for 5 months; $299 for 3 months; $259 for 8.5 months; and now, $189 until the Kindle 3 is released.

The ereader is not dead–it just behaves as any market that starts to mature.

Do you remember how much your first mp3 player cost?  Apparently, the tech media have forgotten.

Amazon finally offers the 2.5 update for manual download

June 16, 2010

Perhaps it is a coincidence that soon after the 2.5.2 bin file started populating around the web last week Amazon decided to finally post the update on its support site for users to manually download. Or maybe they were pushed into action by the community effort. Regardless, they do not win any points for being second to the finish line.

For those who preferred waiting until Amazon offered the 2.5.2 bin file on their own site, it is now up: Kindle Software Update 2.5.2

You can either follow the link or proceed directly via the instructions below (all links point to files hosted by Amazon):

  1. Determine which type of Kindle you have: You can confirm which Kindle you own by looking at the certification symbols or first 4 digits of the serial number located on the back of your Kindle and comparing it to the images below. 
  2. Download Your Software: Visit the appropriate link below to download the Kindle 2.5 software update file directly to your computer:
Image of the back of Kindle (U.S. Wireless)

Kindle (U.S. Wireless)

Serial no. prefix B002

Download: Kindle (U.S. Wireless)

Image of the back of Kindle DX (U.S. Wireless)

Kindle DX (U.S. Wireless)

Serial no. prefix B004

Download: Kindle DX (U.S. Wireless)

Image of the back of Kindle (Global Wireless)

Kindle (Global Wireless)

Serial no. prefix B003

Download: Kindle (Global Wireless)

Image of the back of Kindle DX (Global Wireless)

Kindle DX (Global Wireless)

Serial no. prefix B005

Download: Kindle DX (Global Wireless)

  1. Transfer Software to Your Kindle: Turn your Kindle on and connect it to your computer using the USB cable. Then use your computer’s file browser to copy the update file from your computer to the Kindle root directory. (The root directory contains a number of folders – such as “audible,” “documents,” and “music” – and is typically denoted by a “device” icon).
  1. Monitor File Transfer and Disconnect: Check your file browser’s file transfer progress bar to ensure that file transfer to your Kindle is complete. When you’re confident the file has transferred successfully, you can use your computer’s unmount or eject function to safely disconnect Kindle from your computer. Disconnect the USB cable from Kindle and your computer.
  2. Start the Software Update: Go to the Home screen, press the Menu key, and select “Settings.” Press the Menu key again, and then select “Update Your Kindle.” (This option will be grayed out if the most recent update has already been installed.) Select “Ok” when prompted if you want to perform an update.

Kindle 2.5.2 software upgrade

June 11, 2010

The rollout of the 2.5 software update for the Kindle has not been Amazon.com’s proudest moment of customer service.

Perhaps they were wise to not release the 2.5 update en masse over the Whispernet service–as evident by the already updated version of 2.5.2. But they should have made the 2.5, or at least the new 2.5.2, available for download via the Amazon.com website (like previous firmware updates) for those both anxious to try out the new features and/or (in the case of the 2.5 firmware) willing to suffer through a few bugs.

Well, the 2.5.2 firmware has managed to find its way to the internet thanks to some Kindle owners who copied the file before the upgrade process began.

Note: This update DOES WORK (I have installed this file on my Kindle 2 International), but this particular update is only for Kindle 2 International versions and you must have 2.3.4 firmware currently installed.  If you currently have version 2.3.3, install the 2.3.4 bin file first.

[To check your current firmware version, from the home screen click “MENU” -> “Settings” and then look at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen]

Instructions for upgrading to 2.5.2

  1. If you currently have firmware version 2.3.4, skip to Step 4.  If your current version is 2.3.3 download the 2.3.4 firmware update (59KB) here.
  2. Connect your Kindle to your computer via the USB cable and copy the file, “Update_kindle2_gw_2.3.4.bin” to root directory of the Kindle (note: do NOT place it in the folders, “audible”, “documents” or “music”).
  3. Unplug the Kindle. From the Kindle’s home screen, click “MENU” -> “Settings” -> “MENU” -> “Update Your Kindle” and follow the instructions
  4. Download the 2.5.2 firmware update (13.2MB) here.
  5. Connect your Kindle to your computer via the USB cable and copy the file, “Update_kindle2_gw_2.5.2.bin” to root directory of the Kindle (note: do NOT place it in the folders, “audible”, “documents” or “music”).
  6. Unplug the Kindle. From the Kindle’s home screen, click “MENU” -> “Settings” -> “MENU” -> “Update Your Kindle” and follow the instructions

You now have the the latest software for your Kindle.  A summary of the improvements:

  • Collections: Organize your books and documents into one or more collections (instructions).
  • PDF Pan and Zoom: Zoom into PDFs and pan around to easily view small print and detailed tables or graphics (instructions).
  • Password Protection: Password protect your Kindle when you’re not using it (instructions).
  • More Fonts & Improved Clarity: Enjoy two new larger font sizes and sharper fonts for an even more comfortable reading experience.
  • Facebook & Twitter Posts: Share book passages with friends on Facebook and Twitter directly from your Kindle (instructions).
  • Popular Highlights: See what the Kindle community thinks are the most interesting passages in the books you’re reading.

Kindlepad – a notebook for your Kindle

June 9, 2010

Your Kindle has a prominent keyboard–occupying 1/5 of the device’s vertical space—with keys spaced more generously than any smartphone.

And while the Kindle is mainly a device to consume content, there are ways to use it to create content as well. Let’s start with a basic organizational tool–the notebook–useful in cataloging one’s task lists, notes or miscellaneous thoughts that pop into your head.

One of the first eBooks I purchased for my Kindle was a rudimentary notepad. I have used it extensively, and in so doing, discovered both tricks and lacks–which fill this instructional post as well as served as the model for a new notebook for the Kindle Store–Kindlepad.

Kindlepad – $0.99

[Already use a notepad–whether on your Kindle, via a web application or desktop software–and worried about having to recreate all your notes into a new notepad? An easy method to transfer your notes will be detailed.]

Is it worth $0.99 to be able to jot down a note that you do not want to forget or lose? Or an item/subject that surfaced from your reading that you wish to investigate further?

Even if you only took one note every few months, I would say, “yes.”  But I use my Kindlepad for numerous task lists, email drafts, work notes, among other things–to me, it is an invaluable resource.

Here is how to get started:

Opening Kindlepad

When opening Kindlepad for the first time you are taken to the book’s beginning–a list of the category icons [note: you can also return to this page at any time by pressing “MENU” -> “Go to Beginning”]. Some may prefer to place all their notes in this section; some may save their highest priority notes for here, and still others may choose to skip this section entirely.  The icons are smaller versions of their counterparts in the subsequent sections.

Each category has it’s own “chapter” with a a numbered list:

Single-page

To Do

Emails

Follow Up

Work

Long-term

Documents

Misc

One can navigate to the desired category by either moving the 5-way controller to the left or right or by going to the Table of Contents.

To create a ‘note’, move the cursor down in front of the categorical icons (for the summary page section) or one of the series of dashes (for the individual category chapters). Then, just begin typing. To save, move the cursor down to highlight the ‘save note’ bubble. Your ‘”note” will appear as a superscript number.

Review & Editing your ‘notes’

To review, edit or delete your notes, scroll your cursor down to the left of the icon (or the series of dashes for the individual category chapters) for the chosen ‘note’ .  Move the cursor just once to the right–the footnote will be highlighted and the first couple of lines of the ‘note’ will appear at the bottom of the screen. Either press the 5-way controller or click the return key (↵) to open the ‘note’.

If you make any changes, be sure to click the ‘save note’ bubble. If you made no changes or to exit without saving any changes, just click the ‘BACK’ button.

Online annotations

Although Kindlepad is useful solely as an eBook on your Kindle, its effectiveness can be enhanced using Amazon’s free annotations page where all of your purchased eBooks’ notes/highlights are kept:

You will need to sign in. The direct link for your Kindlepad’s notes is:

http://kindle.amazon.com/work/kindlepad-ebook/B003KN3GHI/B003KN3GHI

Bookmark this link in your browser, or better yet, use it as your homepage–so that your ‘To Do’ list, ‘Email’ drafts, ‘Follow-Up’ items, etc. are never far from your mind.

Amazon recently updated this site to allow for online edits, in addition to presenting the notes with the same formatting (e.g. line breaks) with which they were composed on the Kindle. This upgrade facilitates better copy & paste functionality–your emails are ready to be pasted into new messages; documents/memos are ready to be pasted into word processing application; etc.

Transferring notes/lists from another application

As for transferring your notes from a different notepad into Kindelpad, the easiest method is as follows:

  1. Open Kindlepad on your Kindle
  2. Make a simple entry in each location (e.g. category chapter/)item number)–this can be as simple as a single number (e.g. “1”) or words to help remind you what you want to include in each location (e.g. “Home Projects”). You will be able to replace whatever you choose.
  3. Close Kindlepad
  4. If your Kindle’s wireless is off, turn it on. Otherwise, press “MENU” -> “Sync & Check for Items”
  5. Open your computer’s browser and go to your Kindlepad‘s notes. You should see all the characters/words that you entered in Step 2.
  6. Copy from your other application(s) a note/list that you want to transfer to Kindlepad. [For example, if using the basic notepad purchased at the Kindle Store, use this link]
  7. From the annotations page, click the blue “Edit this note” link next to the character/words that you entered in Step 2. A dialog box will open.
  8. Paste (Ctrl + V) the text into the open dialog box.
  9. Repeat Steps 6-8 for each note/list/etc that you wish to transfer to Kindlepad
  10. Delete Kindlepad from your Kindle and then go to your ‘Archived Items’ (last page of your home screen) and click on Kindlepad to redownload it.

Final notes

This is one of those applications that the more you use it, the more effective it will be as a true organizational tool–consistently in your mind and constantly near the top of your Kindle home page (as well as in your browser’s bookmarks).

I spent considerable time using the basic notebook at the Kindle Store, figuring out what improvements could be made and what sections to create. First, I replaced text with images so that moving the cursor through the notepad would not cause the Kindle’s dictionary to pop up. Second, I selected categories based on my own experience with notepads/task lists. I am open for suggestions of additional categories that could be added in future versions of Kindlepad.

Notes are saved when the ‘save note’ bubble is selected–so if your Kindle is prone to ‘freezing’, make sure you click this bubble periodically when composing long notes.

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